Biomechanics and the art of H.R. Giger have greatly influenced tattooists and tattoo lovers around the world. Besides tattoo culture, where his work is widely recognized, Giger is often referred to in other popular culture fields, such as science fiction and cyberpunk.
Years after his death in 2014, tattooists still copy and recreate Giger’s works with ink on skin. Many artists get inspiration from his distinctive imagery and still do breathtaking biomechanical work today.
Hand Ruedi Giger is born February 1940 in the small Swiss city of Chur – capital city of Graubünden. He grew up in a rather normal, middle-class family. His father was a pharmacist. When Hans a kid, his father received a human skull as a professional promotion gift from a pharmaceutical firm. As a result, young Hans was quite impressed by this skull and anything anatomical.
Soon after that, he developed a fascination with dark and strange art. He also found inspiration in the works of Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. Despite H.R.’s strong interest in the arts, his father viewed art as a non-perspective, “breadless” profession. He strongly encouraged him to enter pharmacy.
Giger’s mother Melli was always a great encouragement to him. She did not always understand the strange fascinations of her young son, but always supported him.
H.R. Giger’s Artistic Career
Young artist moved to Zürich in 1962. He studied architecture and also industrial design at the School of Applied Arts until 1970.
In Zürich, he began drawing creatively and soon expanded his network of friends to include many involved in different aspects of the arts.
He worked as an interior designer while completing some of his early paintings in 1966. Two years after, in 1968, he started working exclusively as an artist and filmmaker. H.R. Giger has his first posters published in 1969. Around the same time, he also had some of his first exhibitions outside of Zürich.
For the next decade, Giger would use the airbrush extensively. Using this technique, his works take on a unique otherworldly quality. Giger is among the leading airbrush artists in the world since the 80’s. His work proves that excellent fine art is possible using the airbrush method almost extensively.
Biomechanical Art in Tattoo Culture
Biomechanical art becomes widely popular after 1979. This is the year when Swiss artist H.R. Giger designs the alien creatures in the “Alien” movie.
Biomechanical art (or Biomech) is a surrealistic style of art that combines various elements. With extensive use of machines and organics, rendered with distinct realism, biomechanical art expresses a unique internal fantasy world. In addition, it most typically represents human or animal anatomy elements. Bones and joints are often replaced with metal pistons and gears but infused with alien-looking tendons and muscles.
After the expansive popularity of Ridley Scott’s movie Alien in 1979, many tattoo artists were influenced by the revolutionary imagery used. As a result artists quickly began tattooing images taken directly from the movie. Many turned to other works of H.R. Giger in a similar style, mainly the Necronomicon series.
The Biomechanical art style is one of the most popular contemporary tattoo art movements. It became increasingly popular in the next decade and is still a classic. Influential artists such as Guy Aitchison and Aaron Cain started their own original, biomechanical designs. Today, many artists still create amazing visuals, inspired by Giger and the early Biomechanical style tattoo artists.